Bradley Seals Maximum Points at Ulster!

August 21, 2012 by  
Filed under R 6: Ulster Rally, Rally News

(Image: William Neill) For the first time this year, the Todds Leap Ulster Rally hosted a round of the Carryduff Forklift MSA Northern Ireland Stage Rally Championship. And with the exception of series leader Derek McGarrity, who retired from a separate Ulster event, most of the N.I. series crews entered the Ulster National Rally.

There were nine stages on the agenda for the 49 National Rally crews that lined up at the start. They joined the event from stage four and finished after Saturday’s 12th stage.

Last year’s winner Pat Kirk led the field away but first to head the leaderboard was Derek McGeehan and Arthur Kierans. They powered their Mini WRC into a 10.5 second lead after the first stage from Frank Kelly and Russell Harold, while Ian Millar and Ronan O’Neill held third in their Group A Impreza.

The Torr Head stage was cancelled for the National crews as a result of Jussi Kumpumaki’s accident in the Rally NI field, so crews were awarded a nominal time before heading to the final Friday test. McGeehan was fastest again to extend his lead to 21.9 seconds from Kelly, while Camillus Bradley and Crawford Henderson lifted themselves into third position with second fastest time.

Based on his performance over the opening tests, most expected Derek McGeehan to continue his charge at the top of the order as day two dawned. But instead, there was a Mark 2 Escort whitewash at the end of the opening Langford Lodge stage!

Fintan McGrady and Mark Hanna had set the pace in their Escort, two-tenths of a second quicker than Frank Kelly. Alastair Cochrane and Drew Stewart were next in line, while McGeehan was seven seconds off the pace. Things were beginning to get interesting!

The Escort crews were fastest again on stage eight, this time with Frank Kelly topping the timesheets. He swiped more than 14 seconds off the leaders, leaving the gap between himself and McGeehan standing at just 1.6 seconds, while Camillus Bradley was 14 seconds further adrift.

Then Bradley upped the ante, claiming a couple of fastest times of his own. While Frank Kelly moved into the rally lead, Bradley started to put second placed McGeehan under pressure. With two stages to go, eight seconds separated the leading three crews!

Rally leader Kelly was fastest on the penultimate stage to extend his lead to nine seconds but Bradley did enough to finally nip in front of McGeehan. Three-tenths of a second separated the two crews going into the final stage, so nobody could afford to relax.

Knowing that Bradley was on the attack, Frank Kelly and Russell Harold nervously entered the final stage of the event. They knew they couldn’t afford to relax and they nervously checked the times at the stage finish. Bradley was fastest again but Kelly had managed to perfectly judge those final miles. He was just a couple of seconds slower and had done enough to secure outright rally victory!

However, Kelly isn’t registered for this year’s Carryduff Forklift N.I. series so instead, Camillus Bradley and Crawford Henderson claimed maximum points. They were fastest on the final stage which was enough to ensure that they secured the runner-up position. In the end, they finished just 6.1 seconds behind the rally winners and 2.6 seconds ahead of the Mini WRC belonging to Derek McGeehan and Arthur Kierans, who claimed second placed points.

Last year’s winners, Pat Kirk and Peter Ward, sealed fourth overall from Alastair Cochrane and Jonathan Charlesson, with Drew Stewart and David White sixth. Fintan McGrady and Mark Hanna brought their Escort home in seventh, while Ian Millar and Ronan O’Neill completed the top eight overall in their Subaru.

In Championship terms, Derek McGarrity continues to lead the series despite not scoring at the Ulster Rally. His advantage has been whittled down to 11 points with Derek McGeehan now holding second position. Drew Stewart is third, just two points further adrift, while Ray Brammer is fourth ahead of David Armstrong.

The Carryduff Forklift MSA N.I. Rally Championship returns to the forests for the penultimate round of the series. The BJT Commericals Ltd Lakeland Stages Rally takes place on Saturday 8 September. Regulations and entry forms are available from www.nirally.com.

Go Motorsport

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